IN her 20s, Alana Fagan found herself tiring of corporate life – but couldn’t find an antidote to her malaise.
That all changed when her mother was diagnosed with cancer, upending her both personally and professionally. She flew home from London, where she was working in recruitment, to be by her mum’s bedside.
As the days passed, she built a growing appreciation for the work of doctors and nurses.
“The doctors really made me interested in medicine, they always took their time to explain everything so well, were so kind, and the nurses were wonderful,” the now 33-year-old says.
“They were doing something every day that was contributing to making people feel better, and that’s really important to me.”
So she decided to swap a suit for scrubs at the age of 26, enrolling in medicine at Notre Dame University – and has never looked back.
She interned in the beating heart of Sunshine Hospital, the emergency department, discovering her affinity with the high stakes, life and death environment.
Landing a job as a resident at Sunshine Hospital was like “coming home”.
“I really love it, there’s a great culture and people don’t take themselves too seriously,” she says.
“There’s an interesting, diverse patient population and a sense of people working for the best possible outcome.
“In an ED, you never know what you are going to get. There’s a lot of psych patients, people with abdominal pain, early pregnancies – it depends on the day.”
It’s a far cry from her work in HR in Australia and London, which she says left her unfulfilled and unchallenged.
“I just got sick of making other people money,” she recalls.
“I felt like it was a job that anyone could do and I was not making a difference.”
Sunday nights and Monday mornings are often the busiest at Sunshine Hospital, with the ED swelling with people who don’t want to go to work, she says.
Unlike the wild west-type depictions of emergency rooms on TV dramas, she says it’s usually surprisingly calm.
The most rewarding part of the job is when patients return to thank her for saving their life, or just taking the time to make them feel comfortable.
“If it takes me an extra ten minutes to talk people through something, I will do it,” she says.
The Greatest Need Project is an online story-sharing website with two major goals – to help patients facing significant hardship and disadvantage, and to facilitate research, at Western Health.
As a staff member, Dr Alana Fagan is sharing her story in bid to help those at Western Health who need it most.
By making a donation on Alana’s behalf – and sharing her story on social media – you are making a difference too. Thank you.